Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Home at last!

I went back to reread my blog, and I found that I never posted like I said I would. To make up for it, I am blogging now.

Wednesday night in Greece, Madeline and I attempted to pull an all nighter since we were having to leave our hotel at 2:30am. Crazy, right? So Maddie and I got in bed and began to watch Burlesque, and as you may have guessed, we both fell asleep. Luckily, we had set an alarm in fear that that would happen. Surprisingly, it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be to wake up at that hour.

We loaded the bus which was about a 3 hour drive to Athens. Of course I slept the whole way. In the Athens airport I had a very nutritious breakfast: Oreos! I'm sure Troy was jealous! Our flight from Athens to Paris was about 3 hours. Once again, I slept the entire way.

When we landed in Paris, we SPRINTED to our gate in fear of missing our flight. It turned out that our flight was delayed, so we actually had time to spare (and shop!). While waiting at our gate, we saw Hakeem Olajuwon and asked him to take a picture with us!

He was on our flight home, but he was in first class, so he was nowhere near us. The flight from Paris to Houston was 9 hours and 40 minutes. For the first 2 hours I watched Love and Other Drugs. Half way into it, I took a Tylenol PM, and I was out in about 20 minutes. When I finally woke up, we had about 3 hours left. For the remaining time I ate and watched another movie.

By the time we landed in Houston, it was about 2:00 PM. My mom was waiting for me right outside of customs. Straight from the airport she took me to an art gallery... fun....

I tried so hard to stay up that night. At about 7 we went out for Mexican food. We saw the Kreindlers (Erin's family) there, and we decided to sit with them since I hadn't had enough of her!! And because I wanted to spend time with my second dad, Mr. K! Erin and I were both falling asleep at the table, and I crashed the minute I got home.

The next day, I was up early (8:00) to say goodbye to my dad and Troy who were heading off to Manhattan Beach. I spent the rest of the day hanging out with my friends. It was nice to be home! My friends wanted me to go out with them, so I did. I was so jet-lagged that I was the first to fall asleep (which usually never happens!).

The past few days have been boring, especially compared to my life in Italy and Greece!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Staying hydrated on Hydra

Today, we were up earlyish to got to an island called Hydra for the day. To get there, we had an hour and a half bus drive to catch a ferry. The ferry was only about 20 minutes to Hydra. Right when we got there, Madeline, Claire, and I posed for a picture, when the wind blew Maddie's floppy hat right off her head. It looked like a scene from a movie. After staring at the hat in the water for a good 10 minutes, a man on a boat fished it out with a hook. He was no Costas (from Sisterhood, duh), but he was very sweet.

We were given another assignment on the island. Our assignment was to take portraits. I enjoy taking pictures of people, but I sometimes find it awkward trying to snap pictures of them without them noticing... Thankfully, Claire had no problem asking all the people whether they were okay with us taking pictures of them. One of the portraits I took was of a very cute Greek boy. Now he looked like Costas. Looking back at our pictures, Maddie and I realized we were too distracted by his good looks to get a good picture of him... oops.

We wandered around the little town on Hydra for a couple hours before meeting to go to lunch as a group. After lunch, we went to the beach!! Once again, it wasn't a beach with sand, but by now we are used to it. We got to tan for a good 4 hours, and got to jump off a cliff! Well, technically it was a platform, not a cliff. The cliff was too dangerous to jump off, so we settled for the platform. I was afraid the water was cold, so I decided to tan for the whole 4 hours. It was fabulous. I got a nap in and everything.

David was stressing about being on time for the ferry since it was the last one of the day. Me, on the other hand, wanted to purposely miss the ferry so we got to stay longer on Hydra (and possibly go back to see my Costas)! Unfortunately, the night did not end that way. We did catch the ferry and we did make it back to Nafplio. Because it was so windy, the ferry ride was a bit rocky... Having bad experiences on boats, I wasn't too fond of the rocking. Luckily, I kept my food down. Then we got on the bus... Usually I fall asleep instantly and waking up freezing. Well not today. Today I was burning up and was incapable of falling asleep due to our horrible driver and the winding roads. There were about 5 of us that felt sick the whole ride home. Not to worry, Callie had a plastic bag for us! Once again, we ended up not needing it, thank goodness!

When we arrived back in Nafplio, we went out for dinner immediately. Mother Erin made sure we all drank a big glass of water to stay hydrated before drinking a soda. Mr. Kreindler, you taught your daughter well. Except, Maddie and I really wanted to drink our Diet Cokes (which are called Coca Cola Light here), so we chugged our water. Not a smart idea. Oh well. Everything turned out fine. Our food came quickly, and we inhaled it quickly as well. After dinner we headed back to the hotel and had 20 minutes to shower before we had to be in the lobby to blog and upload pictures.

Everyone finished at different times, so when I was done I went up to my room to blog some more (it was too hot in the lobby to blog). When Claire came upstairs, she changed the gauze on her stitches. It was gross. Very gross. David seemed to find it cool. Make sense since he's a boy.

Tomorrow is our last day. I am sad to be leaving such a beautiful place, but I am ready to be home in my own bed. Carolyn and David announced that breakfast is at 9:00 tomorrow morning!! That means we get to sleep in! Hence why I am awake at such an ungodly (not really) hour.

I guess since our last day is tomorrow, my last post will tomorrow too. That means I have to make it a good one. Pressure.... 

My blog is back!

You may be confused by the title if you don't know the story. So here's the story. Last night my mama texted me asking where my blog was. At first I thought she just meant a new post since it had been a while, but then I went to check and it said there was suspicious activity, so google decided to delete my blog. Annoying. Very annoying. Being tired and impatient, I gave up and went to bed. Well, kinda... I got in bed, but I sat there venting to my roomies. Sorry, Maddie and Claire. Actually, I shouldn't apologize. Instead of trying to comfort me like I expected them to, they decided to make jokes about it which didn't help. At all. Today after another long day, I went back to check on my blog, and it miraculously reappeared!! Now all the girls on the trip think I made it all up for attention... how'd they know? (sarcasm if you can't tell)

On Monday, we had our hike. Technically it's not a hike... It's more of a climb since all we did was walk up stairs. But there were a lot of stairs. 999 according the National Geographic Travel Guide. Shockingly, all 13 girls made it to the top in 31 minutes and 35 seconds (yes, I timed it). I will admit I was huffing and puffing all the way up, but once I was at the top, it was pretty spectacular. At the top was an old castle. Callie and I went off to explore (and get coffee). While exploring, we saw the prison and a bunch of other rooms (which I can't name...oops). It doesn't sound that cool, but it was entirely stone and it was huge. I am pretty sure that if I lived there I would always be lost.

After the hike, we went to lunch and then the beach! But first, we had time to shower. David didn't understand why we would want to shower before going to the beach. Once again, if he had sisters he would understand.

For lunch, we split into small groups. In my group was Madeline, Claire, Erin, Stephanie, and Rachel. Pretty much the same group every time... When we were finished eating, we had extra time to shop, so we walked around town for a little bit before going back to the hotel. Once everyone was back from lunch, we went to the beach!

We were all ecstatic to be going to the beach, but when we got there there was no sad... It was rocks. On the plus side, sand didn't get on our stuff, but on the down side, it's very uncomfortable to lie on rocks. But beggers can't be choosy! We were happy to be relaxing near the water and tanning. We were at the beach for about 3 hours before it was time to go to dinner. Honestly, I feel like all I have done on this trip is eat and eat and eat. We do walk a lot, so hopefully I walk off most of what I eat.

For dinner last night, we went to dinner as a group. Even though dinner takes 3 times longer with such a big group, I kind of like being all together. Last night was comical for me. Apparently, Madeline was counting how many pieces of bread I was eating because she didn't want to eat more then everyone else. We eat a lot of bread every night, but last night we ate more than usual. I guess it was because Maddie and I made a dangerous decision by ordering garlic sauce. Very dangerous. It was delicious. Also at dinner, I started to walk inside to go to the bathroom (we were eating outside obviously), and one of the waiters said, "May I help you?" I responded with "Restroom?" (also known as water closet here). He said: "Actually, we don't have one. You can use the one in the coffee shop right next door." I smiled and said "Okay!" and began to walk over there. He started laughing at me and said he was kidding. 1) I felt stupid. 2) I didn't know Greeks had such a sense of humor...

Once we were done eating, the leaders gave us another assignment. This one was dealing with our ISO. It was about 8:30 and hey wanted us to walk around for an our before going back to the hotel. Maddie, Claire, and I were exhausted from being out in the sun all day, so we went back to the hotel a tad bit early. That's when I realized that my blog had disappeared, and I decided to go to bed instead of dealing with it. I thought about blogging about it, but.... 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Claire takes a tumble

To start off, Happy Fathers Day to the best dad in the world! I love you, Daddy, and I hope you and Troy had a wonderful trip!

As you may know, today was a travel day. We were on the road by 9:00 and were sad to have to leave our nice, clean hotel. The leaders had told us it was a 3 hour drive from Athens to Nafplio. I fell asleep within 20 minutes of getting on the bus, but when we stopped half-way there for a bathroom break, I woke up totally confused. When I opened my eyes, I saw what looked like a blue beach umbrella. For some odd reason, it looked like a water park, so I thought we were stopping to cool off and go on some slides! Unfortunately not… After only another hour of driving (totally only 2.5 hours, which was upsetting considering I wanted to nap longer), we arrived at our hotel in Nafplio. It’s called Hotel Nafplia…original, right? Immediately, we found out our roommates. Mine are Claire and Madeline! In other words, we have the best room ever!

We had a little down time to work on our pictures and blog (which I didn’t do till now… oops), and then we went out for lunch at a cute, modern restaurant just down the street from our hotel. Since we were all starving, when we were waiting for our food it felt like an eternity. Once we finally got our food, we inhaled it so quickly that we felt sick afterwards.

I’m pretty sure that David is confused by us. We are always starving, and then after we eat we are so exhausted that we want to nap, but we are never too tired to shop! If he had sisters he would understand a little better…

When we were finished with lunch, we had time to wander around Nafplio. Madeline and I walked by the water and shopped a little, missing our third roomie, Claire. Claire had a little accident… While walking back to the hotel she tripped over a nail and cut her knee. It turned out that rocks were in her knee (pretty deep apparently), so the leaders took her to the hospital where she had to get stitches! Only 2, but still! Poor, Claire. Tomorrow we are hiking to a castle. According to the travel guide, it is 999 stairs. Sounds fun, right? Maybe Claire will get out of it… so not fair.

At 5:00 we met back at the hotel to rest some more. At 7:30 we went to dinner on our own. I went with Claire, Erin, and Madeline. There was a church right next to the restaurant we were eating at, and there was a wedding going on. Weddings here are much different than in the states… or at least this one was. After eating, we met back up to go see a performance… I’m not exactly sure how to describe the performance. It was called a whirling dervish. Google it if you want to know what it is…

Lights out was supposed to be early (12:30 for our room, so not so early) in order to be rested for our big hike! 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Nap time(s)

Day 2 in Athens. We had a late start, which was perfectly fine with me. After eating breakfast, we had down-time to work on our blog and such. It wasn't until about 11:00 when we finally got going. We went straight to the archaeology museum (apparently it is the best in the world...). Carolyn and David gave us an assignment to find an object that stood out to us and take 10 pictures of it from different angles. After finishing my assignment, I found some other girls in my group sitting on a bench, so I joined them. For about 30 minutes, 5 of us girls sat around dozing off. I feel bad looking back on it, but I couldn't help it...I was exhausted!

Carolyn and David could tell we were tired (and hungry), so we went to eat at a little cafe. For lunch I had a pork gyro, which is exactly like a pita at Smoothie Island. I have to say, I may like the ones at home better...

After getting some food for energy, we went to another museum. I'm not one for museums, so once again, I wandered for a little while, but for the rest of the time I sat in a chair just looking from there. Thankfully we were only at the museum for 20 minutes.

On our way back to the hotel from the museum, we stopped to see the changing of the guards. It was really cool, and much different from the one in D.C. It lasted a good 15 minutes, and it also served as a good photo opportunity.

We continued on our way back to the hotel after seeing the guards, and arrived there around 4:00. For about 2 hours, we had time to blog, upload pictures, and work on our books. Well, I decided to nap. For some reason, today was such a long day, and yet we barely did anything.

That little nap helped me. A lot, actually. Around 6:30 we went back out to shop and have dinner (and take pictures, of course). At dinner, we all sang happy birthday to Caroline since it is her 16th birthday today! The birthday celebration had to continue, so we decided to make her a little present. We split into 2 big groups and went up to random people asking them to say "Happy Birthday, Caroline" into the camera. We told them that if they said it in a language other than English we get bonus points. Which is true. When we would ask them to say happy birthday, we also asked them to complete the sentence, so we gave them sentences like: The craziest thing I did when I was 16 was.... The present I wanted most when I was 16 was.... Going from person to person and hearing all their ridiculous answers was quite entertaining!

When we got back to our hotel it was 11:00, so we did not have time to watch all the videos and decide which team won. Tomorrow is another travel day... I make it sound like I don't like travel days but the truth is, I love them! It's a perfect time to nap. For those that are awake, it has been decided that we will watch the videos on the 3 hour bus drive to Nafplio. I am so excited for Nafplio!! I am hoping and praying that we will have time to tan on the beach and relax a lot. With Ms. Canon with us, I'm sure she will convince Carolyn and David...

By the way, I am sorry for the lack of pictures. Every night I try to upload pictures, but it won't let me. We haven't had the best wifi while we have been here, so that may be why. I promise, you will all see my pictures one day!

Thought being roomies with Erin would be a good thing...

After driving 3 hours from Delphi back to Athens, the bus driver tells us that our hotel is on a narrow street, so he is not able to take us all the way to the door. Instead, his plan is to stop in the middle of a busy street and block all traffic. So that's exactly what we began to do, except that a policeman came and blew his whistle at us, so only a few girls were able to get off. The driver then resorted to circling around the whole block and trying again. This time, the rest of us girls file out as quickly as possible. Once out, we then had to stand in the middle of the street trying to unload all of our luggage and pass it down like an assembly line. It was quite the sight to see! Right as we finished unloading, the same policeman came back and started yelling at the driver in Greek. I don't speak Greek, but I can tell you he wasn't saying very nice things...

We then walked to our hotel and found out our roommates. Drum roll please.... ERIN AUSTIN KREINDLER! When we got to our room, we saw it was the nicest hotel we have stayed in! There is air conditioning, a nice BIG shower, and a fridge (not that we are going to use it...)! There is one weird thing about the hotel though, in order to have electricity, we have to put our room key (we only have 1) in a little slot. If you remove the key, then the lights stay on for about 5 minutes before shutting off. (This is important later on...) After settling in, we walked to a little cafe down the street for lunch. It was an interesting lunch to say the least... men were staring and making comments that we obviously couldn't understand. I felt like a piece of meat... Oh, speaking of meat. Ms. Hartman and Ms. Cannon thought it would be fun to walk through a meat market. "Fun" is not the word I would use... How about: disgusting, disgusting, and disgusting. Not only were we grossed out about the pigs hanging by their feet, but also by the men that were acting like pigs. We had had enough of the meat market, so we did a little shopping instead! The perks of being with Holly and Carly (yes, that's right, i am on a first name basis with them)!

At about 4:00 we met up with the other group of girls that were with Carolyn and David, and we made our way to the Acropolis. It was very cool, I have to say, except there were stairs. I feel like everywhere I turn it's just stairs stairs stairs. I guess thats how all these Greeks and Italians stay so skinny. When the park was closing and they began to kick us out, we found it was the perfect time to go shopping... again!  It is interesting here, all the store owners try to lure us into their store (which pretty much always works on me), and then they won't let us leave without buying something, so they cut us deals (which I always take).

For dinner, we had a reservation at 8:00 at a traditional Greek restaurant. Not only was the food phenomenal, but so were the dancers! The professional dancer that is. The drunk Australian girls trying to dance with them was more embarrassing than anything. But hey, whatever makes their pink socks purple!

Around 10:45 we got back to our hotel. Ms. Hartman told us she was leaving the next morning to go home due to a family emergency. We were sad to see her leave and knew it just wouldn't be the same without her here with us.

Lights out were supposed to be at 11:30, giving Erin and I only 45 minutes to shower and get ready for bed and blog and and and... So being the nice friend Erin is, she said I could shower first. While I am in the shower (which was GREAT since there was hot water and water pressure), I hear Erin talking to Callie. Then I hear Erin laughing and the door slam. Immediately, I knew what had just happened: she left and took the room key with her, meaning I had 5 minutes to finish up my shower. When I was washing the conditioner out of my hair, the lights turned off. Scary for me because I may or may not be afraid of the dark. I hurry out of the shower, hoping and praying I won't run into anything, and barge out into the hallway in my towel YELLING for Erin. Mr. Kreinder, this is strike 2. Erin comes up the stairs dying laughing with Ms. Hartman. They found the whole situation just hilarious. Me, not so much...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Today was another travel day. As you may know, I attempted to pull an all nighter last night. Key word: attempted. After trying to post pictures for hours (which you see I only had patience for 1), I finally gave up and went to my room. My roommates had already passed out, so I tried to be as quiet as I could. I shined the light of my phone onto my bed to see that there was someone in it. Erin. Apparently, Erin's roommates locked her out of their room, so she found it necessary to come to my room and sleep in my bed. Being the good friend I am, I let her sleep in the bed with me. Mind you, it was a twin bed in a hotel with NO air conditioning. Thankfully, we were waking up at 4:15 the following morning, so we only slept for about an hour. When 4:15 came, Erin went back to her room to see that her room key was in the door, meaning that we shared a twin for nothing. Mr. Kreindler, at this point I wanted to hurt your daughter, but I thought you'd want her back in one piece. You're welcome.

Once we loaded up the bus, we were on our way to the Rome airport. Apparently the bus driver didn't know how to drive (like all the other Italians), but I slept through the whole thing...it didn't bother me! Our flight from Rome to Athens was only about 2 hours, so Ellie and I (and David, but he will probably deny it) watched The Lizzie McGuire Movie, which made the time fly by! Punny, huh?! A bus was waiting for us when we arrived in Athens and took us to Delphi which was about a 3 hour drive. Once again, I was out the second I put my headphones on.

When we arrived at our hotel, the first thing we noticed was the sign on the door: air conditioning! Right away we knew this would be our favorite hotel so far. After settling in, we headed out to dinner. A REAL SIT-DOWN DINNER!! It was great! They served meat! Something other than just carbs. I have to say, I'm loving Greece already...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Life's a beach

This morning we were up and ready at 7am…we practically got to sleep in! We took a 2 hour bus ride (private bus, thankfully) to Cinque Terre. Cinque Terre is along the coast of the Mediterranean consisting of five small villages. We started in the first village, Monterosso al Mare, and hiked to the next village, Vernazza. When I say hike, I mean an intense hike. The beginning of it was treacherous: it was all uphill and steep. I was huffing and puffing and wanting to stop, but once it flattened out it was wonderful! I still couldn’t enjoy the view because I was too busy looking at my feet and trying not to fall, but every once in a while we would stop to take in the beautiful view. When we finally reached the village of Vernazza, I went to lunch with 4 of my friends. Finally a sit-down meal! It was delicious, and gave my feet a break. When we were finished eating. We met back up with the rest of our group, but before we did a little more shopping. Grace, I bought you a little something like I said I would!

After shopping, we went to the beach! It was wonderful!! We got to tan (a little at least) and got to creep on all the little kids. Kids are my favorite thing to photograph. Although the parents don’t always seem too happy about us taking pictures of their children, we find a way around it. We only got to spend about 40 minutes at the beach, but I enjoyed every minute of it. Thankfully we didn’t have to hike back down the trail to get back. Instead, we took a train to our bus and drove 2 hours back to Florence.

When we arrived back at our hotel, all of us were sweaty and gross, but we didn’t have time to shower before going out to dinner. Instead, we put on deodorant and clean clothes and went out to eat. We got to have ANOTHER sit-down meal…it was great. With it being our last night in Italy, we all went out for gelato one last time. And, like always, it was delicious. After our long 3 km hike today, I thought I deserved a little treat!

I would have to say that today has been my favorite day so far. It was very relaxed (after the hike at least) and just all around it was really fun. I am exhausted and sleep is probably much needed, but tomorrow we are making out way to Greece!! We have to be ready to go at 4:30am, so a lot of us found it would be easier just not to sleep. We will be traveling for 7 hours, so I have decided that I was just sleep on the bus and the plane and the train. Wish me luck…

Livin' Like Lizzie (McGuire that is...)

Yesterday, we were up at 5am (waaay too early for me) to go to Rome. To get there, we had to take a bus and a train. I have definitely gotten used to the whole train thing…ehh. It’s not as exciting anymore. Obviously there was a lot to do and see in Rome, but we couldn’t fit it all into one day. So first we went to the Coliseum. I remember reading Caesar this past year in English and hating it, but when I look back and remember the dates, it is quite impressive to see something that is almost 2,000 years old to still be standing.

After walking around the Coliseum for a little while we went to the forum. At this point my feet we killing me and my stomach was growling, so when David and Carolyn gave us an assignment, Erin and I went off to sit on a rock and took all our pictures from there. They probably weren’t the best (actually, I can assure you they weren’t the best), but it passed the time. Then it was finally time to eat…nom nom nom. Once again, our lunch was nothing fancy. We had about 4 things to choose from, but like always, we managed.

After breaking for lunch we exchanged our money so we could shop…but not quite yet. First we went to the Trevi Fountain. It was gorgeous and very crowded. And honestly, it wasn’t exactly what I imagined. I’m not sure exactly what I did imagine… I enjoyed it though! There were tons of young children putting their hands in the water, and it was a great photo opportunity.

From the Trevi we went to the Pantheon. We were there for only about half an hour, so I didn’t have enough time to take in all the gorgeous architecture. I can’t think of any other words to describe it. It was a huge dome with sunlight shining in. All I could do was stare (and take picture of course).

We went to the Spanish Steps after visiting the Pantheon. On our way to the steps, a few of us girls stopped at some of the shops. How could we not? We are girls dying to shop in Italy! Mama, I bought you a little something, don’t worry. I’m not spending all your money on me. Massimo even told us that the steps don’t really have any significance, but I loved just seeing all the different type of people and all the different activities in which they we partaking.

When our long day, we headed to the train station to head back to Florence. Not to worry, we ate at the train station. Lemme tell you, after that meal (if it’s even considered a mean…), we were all dying for a sit-down dinner. Maybe we would get lucky the next day…

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Walk, Eat, Repeat.

Today’s morning went a lot like yesterday morning, except I upgraded my breakfast: I got TWO rolls! Around 10:30 we went to Goma, the most famous gelataria, to hear about the history and the making of gelato. We tasted it of course, too; it’s never too early for gelato!

For once, we didn’t have to walk all the way to our next destination. Since we had a tour scheduled at an olive press, we took a bus to the general vicinity before having to hike uphill a gravel path for 20 minutes. Although my feet were killing me and I would have much rather been in air conditioning at the moment, it was worth it. “It” being everything. The view along the path was to die for and the olive oil we got to taste after the tour of the grove was spectacular.

After a long day, we moved into our new hotel: 2 star this time...upgrade! We spent time uploading and editing our top ten pictures from the past two days. Then we chose our best 3, and the National Geographic leaders, Carolyn, David, and Massimo, critiqued them. To me, it seemed kind of intimidating, but in the end it wasn’t that bad. In fact, it was quite helpful.

After dinner, which ended at 10:30, we didn’t have much time to blog considering lights out was supposed to be at 11:00 (oops…). We all had about 30 minutes to shower. Since there was practically no water pressure at all, I made it fast. Oh, and also the fact that I was sharing the shower with a TOILET made the process a tad difficult, and therefore I wanted it to be as short as possible. 2 minutes. I think that’s a new record for me!

I am sure you have caught on to a pattern: I talk about food and eating a lot, and how much we walk (which is also a lot), but I rarely seem to talk about the photography. Like I said, I have learned a whole lot in just these past 2 days. I must apologize that I only have 1 photo, but that is because pictures take much longer to upload, and considering that it is almost midnight and we have to be up at 5am to go to Rome, sleep is my first priority. Check in this time tomorrow and hopefully pictures will be present.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

First Day Festivities

This morning we had breakfast, and I was hungry after I ate it. Yes, you read that correctly. I had a total of one roll. Oh, and a small (very small) cup of orange juice. What happened to protein at every meal?

Before we departed for our day on the town, we were divided into small groups of 3 or 4 to go on a scavenger hunt. Let me just say that scavenger hunts in foreign countries are much harder than they may seem. How are we supposed to communicate with store owners when we don't speak Italian?! Once the scavenger hunt was complete (well, all that we could complete...), we stopped for lunch at a delicious and quaint little restaurant before heading on to a museum to see the Statue of David. I had heard about the statue and had seen pictures of the statue and had studied the statue (kind of...), but it wasn't until I was standing in front of him when I understood how amazing and BIG! he is. Not exaggerating, I stood in front of him for 10 minutes totally mesmerized, admiring ever detail and every crevice before walking around to see him from behind. For a good 30 minutes, I stared, entirely in awe. And I'm not one for museums, so that is saying a lot.

After being on our feet all day, we got to be on out feet even longer! Mom, you would have been miserable...my feet were killing me! For dinner, it wasn't the normal sit-down dinner that was to be expected. Instead, we took a cooking class! We made a three course meal starting with spinach ravioli. First, we made the dough, thinned it out, cut it into squares, placed spinach on it, and pinched it closed. I'd say thats a lot of steps for 1 little ravioli! Especially since we had to make over 100 little raviolis! For the second course, we had Chicken Cacciatora. I am not able to explain how to make it considering I was at a different station, but not to worry, I have the recipe! Lastly (but the most important!), we had Tiramisu for dessert. Although I am a tad bit bias considering I helped make it along with Erin, the Tiramisu was delicious! Altogether the meal was fabulous, and it tasted even better knowing we made it!

Friday, June 10, 2011

From trains to twins to traveling

Today was an eventful day to say the least. First off, my cousin had twin girls!! Welcome to the world, Julia Kincaid and Margaret Carothers! Paul and Lauren, I know you are probably busy and won't have time to read this, but congratulations! To Mama and Dad, Happy Anniversary! Sorry I couldn't be there, but I have been a tad bit busy. I have been traveling for 24 hours, and I got to ride on a train (2 actually) for the first time! At the train station in Florence, I had to pay 1 euro to use the restroom! Odd, but I managed. After lugging our suitcases up the stairs (only 1 flight for me thankfully), the first thing we did when we were settled in our hostel in Florence was go out to get some gelato. Yes, Grace, the first thing I did was eat gelato. I'd say we are off to a great trip so far!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Is it time yet?

For those who know me well, you are probably aware that I am capable of sleeping 'til noon (or later) in any type of environment: lights shining, music blaring, dogs barking.... This morning I had my alarm set for 9:00AM (my alarm being my mom), but instead of refusing to get up and out of bed, I found myself wide awake at 8:30 with no alarm... Not normal. My dad can testify. From this you can gather than I am either (a) excited (b) nervous (c) anxious (d) all of the above. The answer is d.
I have a lot to be excited about: walking the street of Italy and Greece for the first time, getting to spend 2 weeks with some of my good friends, having the opportunity to be taught by a National Geogaphic Photographer...
Luckily, I am not nervous about as many things as I am excited, but I do have thousands of questions running through my head: What if my bag gets lost on the way there? What if I get pickpocketed? What if I get separated from my group?
Most of all I am anxious. I want to be there already! I want to be eating gelato in Italy and riding donkeys in Greece! Not to worry, I will be sure to get a picutre of that!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Countdown Continues...

For as long as I could remember (or at least since the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants came out), I have desired to travel to Greece. Now, I have the opportunity to travel to both Italy AND Greece on a National Geographic Student Expedition. On my trip, I will be taking thousands of pictures, and this blog is one of the places where my family and friends can see my pictures and keep up with what I am doing. I leave on Thursday, June 9 and will be in Italy first for about a week, and then we (a group of 15 girls!) will move to Greece. I can hardly wait! In less than 48 hours I will be on my way to Italy!